Airsoft vs Paintball: The Pros and Cons Compared

Paintball and airsoft are two similar shooting games that have grown in popularity over the years. Many venues offer both of them to interested players. What are the pros and cons of each one?

Airsoft has more realistic gameplay and players don’t leave a lot of mess behind. However, it’s hard to keep track of tagged opponents. Paintball leaves a visible trail of paint with each shot, making results calculation easier. However, reloading is time-consuming and the guns aren’t accurate.

Before delving into the advantages and disadvantages of airsoft and paintball, it’s helpful to understand the differences between the two. This article will also compare their difficulty levels, cost, and safety.

What Is Airsoft?

Airsoft is a military-inspired sport that simulates military combat. Airsoft firearms shoot a tiny, lightweight BB composed of compressed plastic or biomaterial.

When competing in airsoft competitions, participants’ clothes and equipment are often as authentic and historically accurate as possible to a particular military battle or period. As a result, airsoft draws a sizable number of military reenactors and fans.

Video: Starting out with Airsoft: The Basics / What You Need to Know

Pros of Airsoft

One of the primary advantages of playing airsoft games is that they encourage physical activity while having fun. During the game, you will continuously move to dodge the adversary and avoid getting shot by the competition.

There are, however, many more advantages in addition to preserving your stamina and body. The following are just a few of the many benefits of airsoft gaming:

The Gameplay Is Realistic

Airsoft is often played in a setting that is closely modeled to look like a battlefield, complete with natural and manufactured obstacles. Participants can even take on special positions in the airsoft team modeled after real-world military units.

Additionally, the airsoft weapons used often resemble actual firearms in appearance and feel.

It is an excellent recreational game, but it may also be utilized for training purposes.

Indeed, the US Coast Guard has embraced airsoft as a method of training its troops. Again, this demonstrates the closeness of airsoft to reality.

Airsoft Games Are Not Messy

Airsoft makes use of 6 mm (0.24 in) plastic or biodegradable BB pellets that do not shatter on contact and stain like paintballs. This is an advantage because splatters will not obstruct your view.

However, due to the absence of visible markings, it’s considered an honor sport in which participants must be disciplined enough to call when they are struck.

Guns and Ammunition Are Inexpensive

A good airsoft gun will cost between $180 and $240. Additionally, you can customize your gun by adding extra features such as a laser, but any modifications will increase the price.

Generally, for less than $200, you can get a durable airsoft gun. This makes the sport more approachable for beginners without a lot of cash lying around.

Additionally, ammunition is inexpensive. You can get a 5000-round airsoft ammunition bag for around $20.

These factors make it one of the most cost-effective team shooting sports.

The Guns Are More Accurate And Hold More Ammo

Both airsoft and paintball fields have a maximum muzzle velocity restriction for safety reasons. Airsoft fields establish their own limits, although most guns shoot at speeds of between 300 and 500 fps (91.44 and 152.4 mps), making them very rapid.

One advantage of the faster airsoft weapons is that they are more precise over a longer distance than paintball guns.

This is critical for the more expansive field play included in airsoft.

Additionally, airsoft weapons often carry a large number of pellets, which means you spend less time reloading on the field. For example, airsoft magazines typically contain 400 BBs, while paintball hoppers usually store fewer than 200 balls.

Video: 10 Reasons Why People Play Airsoft (Why Do You Play?)

Cons of Airsoft

The game is not without its downsides. Some of them include the following:

The Honor System

This is the most significant disadvantage of airsoft.

Because airsoft relies on an honor system to determine who has been struck, there is a greater possibility of players cheating by being dishonest.

Given the difficulty of seeing the BBs fly after they leave the gun’s barrel, you’ll never know whether your shot was successful. This can result in clashes and angry exchanges during a game.

Given the difficulty of depending on others, airsoft players often use tracer rounds to determine the direction of the BB pellet. These pellets flash red or green and are very noticeable even in a dimly lit environment.

Using one of these, it will be easier for you to see when you’ve struck your opponent.

Airsoft Fields May Require More Gear

Since airsoft is all about simulating real-life military situations, it’s not uncommon to find airsoft fields insisting on players kitting out in close-to-full military gear. 

Of course, most of them will hire out the gear, which can increase the overall cost of the game significantly. 

What Is Paintball?

Paintball is a sport that often consists of extremely brief, fast-paced elimination matches. When the missiles strike a player, they spatter and leave color, allowing competitors to determine when they or other players have been hit.

Paintball games are played on indoor or outdoor fields of various sizes. Natural topography and artificial obstacles, like wooden bunkers, are used to make the grounds as challenging as possible.

There are various game goals in paintball, including capture the flag, assault and defend, and annihilation.

Pros of Paintball

With paintball, cheating is nearly impossible. Paintball uses balls that explode on contact, creating a visible paint trail when a player is struck. Other advantages include the following:

Elimination Games Are Easy

As we have mentioned above, the balls explode on contact and leave marks. This means it’s easy for players to quickly see individuals that have been hit (and how many times), making the umpire’s job easier when it’s time to eliminate a player.

Paintball Masks Are Tougher

Paintball masks are more robust and, as a result, are usually larger. airsoft masks, on the other hand, are not nearly as indestructible.

Additionally, all paintball fields demand that you wear a full-face mask and protective goggles. This significantly increases the safety of gaming.

Only a few airsoft fields adhere to the same rule. Most airsoft fields require simply that some kind of eye protection, such as metal mesh, be used.

The downside of wearing metal mesh is that it does not provide the same level of protection for your eyes as a mask with a safety lens does. In addition, there is always a possibility that it will shatter if fired at close range at a high fps.

This is not an issue with paintball equipment.

The Games Are More Demanding

While airsoft games have the allure of military simulations, paintball players typically take the games more seriously for a few reasons. First, since hits are obvious, players remain highly competitive to avoid elimination. Secondly, the size of the balls and the bruises they leave behind add to the adrenaline rush of the game.

Video: Have You Played Paintball?

Cons of Paintball

Some of the cons of paintball include the following:

It’s Not Realistic

Paintball may also teach teamwork and other skills you can pick up from airsoft, but it doesn’t have the same air of realism. The equipment looks very different from real arms, and invariably also performs very differently. 

High Costs of Equipment

One of the primary drawbacks of paintball is the high cost of equipment.

To play paintball and rent equipment, expect to pay around $60 for 90 minutes of play. 

If you prefer to purchase your own gear, it’s easy to spend a few hundred dollars on the essentials.

Also, paintballs are extremely expensive, costing between $40 and $70 for a package of 2000 pellets.

Several factors influence paintball pricing, including the following:

  • Paint grade.
  • Shell quality. A spherical paintball is more costly but is more precise and consistent in its application.
  • Shell Composition. A more costly paintball will have a more fragile shell, which will cause less pain when it strikes an opponent.

Besides cost and lack of realism, there are some other drawbacks of paintball.

Paintball Guns Are Inaccurate

Due to the way paintballs interact with gravity, paintball guns are less precise than Airsoft tools.

Some paintballs have dimples that change the way physics elements, such as acceleration, interact with them. Usually, this leads to the gun shooting poorly. 

This may be avoided by checking customer evaluations on your paintballs before buying them to see whether their form is appropriate for the sport.

Reloading Is Time Consuming

To load ammo into a paintball gun, all weapons use a big hopper. The hopper is enormous, and if the weapon is not held upright, the paintballs will not feed correctly.

Additionally, when you run out of paintballs, you must replenish the hopper, which takes time. 

First, the gun must be cocked, then the paintball gun’s air source has to be added. Once these steps are complete, you can then add the paint.

Airsoft weapons, like real guns, have magazines. The benefit of magazines is that reloading is simplified since you just need to swap them out.

Which Hurts More: Airsoft or Paintball?

Typically, being shot with a paintball will cause more pain than being hit by an Airsoft pellet. This is because a paintball is heavier, carrying more energy, and having a more significant impact.

According to some players, getting struck by an Airsoft pellet feels comparable to receiving a strong pinch. And players often make the analogy between being hit by a paintball and being whipped by a wet towel.

While Airsoft pellets do not move at a high rate of speed, Airsoft players have a bias towards overshooting their opponent. This is partially due to your adversaries’ desire to guarantee that you call the hit.

This means they often strike you with more BBs than necessary, which hurt much more than a single paintball.

Additionally, some Airsoft fields enable players to use sniper guns capable of shooting at speeds exceeding 500 fps (152.4 mps). When compared to paintball fields that do not permit shooting at speeds more than 300 fps (91.4 mps), there is a significant difference in the damage they can provide.

Ultimately, how you feel when participating in the activity is determined by your pain tolerance. However, there’s a widespread agreement that paintball is somewhat more unpleasant.

Video: Which Hurts More–Airsoft or Paintball?

Which Sport Has More Injuries?

Paintball and airsoft can both cause a significant amount of injuries. The injuries from both are often as a result of the balls hitting unprotected parts of the body.

A significant distinction between plastic BBs and paintballs is the amount of damage left behind.

Typically, being shot by a paintball results in a bruise around the size of a quarter. However, being struck by an airsoft BB leaves just a tiny red welt where the pellet landed.

But each of these sports has a history of severe injuries.

Almost everyone who plays paintball develops purpuric lesions at the impact site, making it the most frequent injury suffered while playing.

Additionally, severe injuries such as eye damage, ear injuries, and bruising may occur. Sprained ankles are also common, and players have reported experiencing momentary difficulty breathing after being shot in the neck.

To avoid severe injury, paintball players should never remove their face masks during play. 

If the mask fogs up, anti-fog inserts and solutions are available. Additionally, instead of removing face covers to wash the paint away, peelable plastic can be put on the mask and removed when paint obstructs vision.

In contrast, severe airsoft injuries often involve ocular abrasion, lens displacement, hyphema, and retinal damage. Corneal abrasion and hyphema are the two most probable ocular injuries, with a nearly 100% and 75% chance of damage, respectively.

You can easily reduce injury risks in airsoft by wearing more durable headgear.

Which Is Safer for Kids?

Both airsoft and paintball are equally safe for youngsters in terms of actual risk from the missiles. Both games require kids to wear protective face shields to prevent pellets from penetrating or injuring their eyes or hearing.

I would consider airsoft to be somewhat less safe than paintball, mainly because the weapons may be confused for actual firearms.

Young children may be incapable of recognizing the difference between airsoft fiction and firearm reality. Unable to distinguish between a real gun and an airsoft variant, a child may negligently handle a genuine firearm.

However, this can easily be avoided by carefully observing your children and keeping any firearms in the home safely hidden.

Final Thoughts

If you want the most realism imaginable, you should try playing airsoft.

If you’re not concerned with realism, paintball may be a better option.

In either case, having someone teach you the ropes before getting started is usually beneficial. 

Prairie Dog Airsoft has created a video comparing the two sports and explaining their fundamentals: